P.E.I.'s chief public health officer says the Island's COVID-19 vaccine supply is reserved for year-round residents only, and that seasonal residents should get their shots in their home province.
The provincial government has received some inquiries, asking whether seasonal residents will be able to get their shots here on the Island.
We're really trying to make sure that we have enough vaccine for the year-round residents that we were allotted vaccine for. — Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I. chief public health officer
The question is also being discussed in the private Seasonal Residents of P.E.I. Facebook group, which includes more than 700 people with properties on the Island.
"It's actually engendered quite a bit of discussion. And I would say there isn't a consistent belief of what the right thing is," said Jen Harding, one of the group's administrators.
"The goal, as I understand it, isn't to be vaccinated ahead of anybody else. It's really a question of — if you have people on the Island at the time their group comes up for vaccination, should they be included in that?"
According to the province, P.E.I. has roughly 3,500 seasonal residents — many of whom typically move to their properties on the Island in late spring.
That's around the time many provinces plan to start offering the vaccine to younger seniors, with a goal to have all Canadians who want the shot to be vaccinated by September.
Get vaccinated before arrival, says CPHO
Dr. Heather Morrison is clear about this: P.E.I. doesn't expect to have enough vaccine to cover seasonal residents.
"The federal government has allotted vaccine to this province based on our year-round residents population. So it does not include our fairly substantial number of seasonal residents that come here," said Morrison.
"At this point, we would encourage anyone who is coming as a seasonal resident to be vaccinated prior to arrival, because they would've been counted in their own province as a resident there, and as part of their allotment. We're really trying to make sure that we have enough vaccine for the year-round residents that we were allotted vaccine for."
Morrison didn't clarify whether the rules could change as more vaccines are approved, and supplies potentially increase.
Harding said some people in the Facebook group are hoping P.E.I. will have enough doses for seasonal residents by the summer.
'Is it based on your health card?'
Some members are concerned that if they have to wait in their home province for their two required shots, three weeks apart, it may be tough to get to P.E.I. at all this year.
"I think people are worried about it. But it's one of those things that we just have to wait and see. I mean, we just started vaccinating people. We're just working out the kinks," said Harding.
"Maybe as other groups start to ask those questions about travel and work and being students in other places, there may be a broader dialogue about how to manage this federally. Is it based on your health card? Or based on the time that your group comes up?"
As it stands, those planning to come to P.E.I. from outside the province — including seasonal residents — need to apply for permission to enter, then self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.
Morrison said "it's a little early to confirm" whether those same rules will remain in place through the spring and summer.
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